Kidnapped Britons Linked to Church in Baghdad

At least four British men abducted today in Baghdad were linked to the vicar of St George's Church, Canon Andrew White.

Canon White heads the Foundation for Relief and Reconciliation in the Middle East (FRRME). He indicated that the four men were bodyguards and a British client working for the FRRME and had been kidnapped from a government building along with one other Westerner by gunmen dressed in police uniforms.

In an e-mail entitled "urgent prayer request" to Times Online today, Canon White wrote: "Four of our security guards have been kidnapped along with one other British client. They were taken from the Ministry of Finance, which is Shia controlled."

The FRRME's Pete Maki confirmed that five men had been kidnapped and that four were security guards for GardaWorld, the Canadian security company hired by FRRME to protect its workers in Baghdad, reports Times Online.

"I can confirm that four are definitely British. We're not absolutely sure of the nationality of the fifth," Mr Maki said.

"We do know about it, we are familiar with the case," he added. "But because of the sensitivity of things we can't confirm his job description or anything like that," he said.

Mr Maki added that FRRME was meeting a kidnapping crisis team this afternoon to discuss a plan of action.

According to witnesses, the kidnappers arrived at Iraq's finance ministry in as many as 40 vehicles.

A spokeswoman for GardaWorld, which received an award from FRRME in 2007, said that the security group was working with its teams in Iraq to investigate the kidnapping.

The British Government has also called its Cobra crisis management committee to an emergency meeting on Tuesday afternoon, while the Foreign Office said it was in "urgent contact" with Iraqi authorities to ascertain the details of what took place and work out a speedy resolution.